Happy Birthday, Dad

Happy birthday, Dad.

You would have been eighty one today.

An old man, but I doubt if the number alone would have phased you or slowed you down much.

You would still have driven us all crazy by jingling the spare change in your pocket.

You would still have cared about the little details in everyone’s life. The kids, the grandkids, the jobs, their schedules (though you could never seem to keep up with mine-that would be no different today, I’m afraid). You always had a memory for the details. I wish you’d passed that one along to me.

You would have continued to do the jobs that nobody else wanted to do, just because you knew they needed to be done.

You would have laughed, always laughed, and smiled your sort of weird, crooked smile that now sits hazy in my memory, hovering there as if deciding to dissolve.

You might be proud of me today.

I work as hard as you taught me to. Sometimes too hard, but you know I got that straight from you. A work ethic is not easily shed.

I never saw you make too many mistakes in your sixty two years. I’ve made plenty, Dad. Some of them life changers.

I hope you would forgive me for those, as I’m trying to forgive myself.

When I get stiff and sore, I think of you.

When something makes me itch, I think of you.

Genes are funny postcards from beyond the grave, powerful in their ability to pass along both good and bad.

I miss you every day.

I think about you every day.

It amazes me, but I’m still learning from you. Did you know that would happen? Did you ever imagine that you would continue to inform, cajole, encourage, scold, and affirm, long after my ability to see the details of your face has waned?

I try my very best to live the way you taught me to.

I don’t try to be you.

No.

But Dad, I try very hard to be like you.

Every day.